When legal conflicts arise, you may be tempted to call a lawyer and settle things in court. However, there is another, less costly alternative: mediation. Mediation is an informal and confidential way of resolving conflicts with the help of a neutral mediator. Mediators are trained to facilitate the discussion of differences between two parties, but do not decide who is right and who is wrong. Through mediation, people can often quickly and amiably come to an agreement.

Service members and their families face additional challenges due to their mobile lifestyle. At times, legal disputes may arise from those challenges, and service members and their families can benefit from the ability to resolve those disputes quickly and cheaply. Mediation is an effective way to do so.

What mediation can do for you

  • Employment – Mediation can help resolve issues for service members protected under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) offers mediation for Reserve and National Guard service members who encounter conflicts with their civilian employers.
  • Divorce – Going through a divorce can be an emotional and contentious process. Mediation can allow two parties to compromise and allow for a civil end to a marriage. The process is often quicker and cheaper than going to court.
  • Real estate – Service members relocate frequently, and are often faced with legal disputes related to homeownership and renting. Mediation is a way to resolve those disputes in a timely matter, so service members can focus on their relocation.
  • Child custody – When parents want to resolve child custody issues, but don’t want to go to court, mediation can provide a mutually agreed upon solution. The process is civil and private, and it doesn’t leave the decision up to a third party.

Benefits of mediation

  • Cost – Mediators may charge a similar rate to lawyers, but mediation sessions are quicker than a prolonged court process.
  • Time – Because mediation is informal, negotiations are often resolved in a short amount of time.
  • Outcome – Since both parties must agree to a resolution, the outcome is often satisfactory to both parties.
  • Privacy – Mediation takes place out of court, allowing an open discussion in a private forum.

To find a mediator in your area, consult your installation’s legal services office. For information about mediation services for service members in the National Guard or Reserves, or to request mediation, visit the ESGR website.